Making Year 2 of travel blogging a breeze…
January 2018 was devoted to positive plans. March 2018 was centred around picky possibilities. But by May 2018, as the countdown to my second blogeversary (and coincidentally my 100th blog post) started, I was slipping into a whirlpool of diabolic doubts. Four and a half months to go, and all I had to my credit were ‘minor milestones’ (ok, not so minor brand collaborations). I could feel a sense of urgency haunting me night and day. How was my Year 2 of travel blogging going to be bigger, bolder, brighter than Year 1?
All was not lost. June-July delivered a series of pleasant surprises. A Sunshine Blogger Award dropped into my inbox. My blog was listed in the IndianTopBlogs. Massive viral-like traffic came from unexpected sources, pushing my current 6-months stats higher than the entire last-year total! Incredible India shared some of my posts on social media and published my article on Meghalaya on their newly revamped website. And just a week short of my second blogeversary, AirVistara carried my article on Salzburg in their in-flight magazine. Phew!
Was the universe conspiring to create happy twists and turns in my favour. Was it the result of my extra vigil for any possible opportunity and persistent follow-ups on every connect? Or a mix of both? Either way, all the gifts that had got delayed in the mail were being delivered one after another. I was finally listing a chain of ‘major milestones’ that had been eluding me. Can you feel vindicated, excited, relieved and ecstatic at the same time? Yes, yes, yes and yes. Suddenly…an epiphany! No undermining the ‘major milestones’, but there was something more intrinsic that had pushed Year 2 higher than Year 1. Much like the first year of trial-and-error, year 2 was packed with conscious choices and priceless learnings. Introspection time then. Three takeaways…
1. BIGGER by choosing to say more of ‘no’: Year 1 is all about gluttony, isn’t it? You’re grabbing every promotion thread you can lay your eyes on, working compulsively for 10 hours daily, 7 days a week, pouncing like a hungry lion at every social media window that dares to cross your line of vision. Chasing every beep, tracking each notification. Crazy routine and never-ending flood of interactions, all justified in your adrenaline-pumped blogger psyche as necessary evils to contend with, till your eyes pop out of their sockets at the end of yet another luminosity-screened day. By Year 2, you’ve slogged enough to be able to afford more of ‘no’. You make choices. To sift the essential from the excesses. To allocate specific days and time slots for promotion. And to ban them from creeping into your writing schedule. You say ‘No’ to the green-eyed greedy monster.
No prizes for guessing the results. Actual blog writing gets the bigger share of the pie. Working smarter makes time for more writing, more quality writing and more peace of mind for quality writing. And the traffic? Unaffected. With the right choices you lose nothing. Except the garbage.
2. BOLDER by choosing to know what to say: The more you read other people’s travel stories, the more you get influenced by them. Correction! The more you read other people’s travel stories, the more you become sure of how to position your own content. Like my niece’s fave quote…“No one ever made a difference by being like someone else”. My game plan? Using an extra day (or two) to arrive at the central idea of each blog post. With an added bonus…more blog loving. Comparing Klimt with Mucha or exploring the hidden blueprint behind Hindu temple architecture spiked up my right-brain way longer than a traffic spike could.
Expert travel bloggers advice you to find a niche to stand out from amongst millions of travel blogs. Translation…get bolder, unafraid. How exactly? Quit looking for guide books, tips and tutorials, because no one has your answer, except you. Now I know why they recommend you to ‘write for yourself’. Preferably using the tone and expressions that make you ‘you’.
3. BRIGHTER by choosing to write first, edit later: The mantra of every writing wizard. And now mine too: ’Write first, edit later’. Yeah right, if only it were that simple. Actually…it is! Its a lot like living in the moment. Enjoying the raw, bumpy ride of the words filling up the screen, instead of visualising the last sentence. Forgetting the language, ignoring the expression, skipping the perfect synonym. Expressing the essence of the thoughts that are brimming in your mind. Sketching out that first rough skeleton. Undone. Incomplete. No one is watching you while you type in the first draft, so how does it matter if its not immaculately worded? Chances are you’re not a fan of it yet. But keep your inner editor nazi at bay, no matter how strong the itch to interfere is. Save the fancy trimming for later. (Preamble: It is important be master of Point 1 first.)
Rewriting the second draft is a cakewalk and the third will probably take a few minutes. Effectively, it calls for practice in wearing two separate hats, one at a time…writer first, editor later. Guaranteed to lead time by half.
Chalking out my own unique
What’s a breeze for one, may be a lull for another. My secret formula during my second year of travel blogging has been to decide my own tempo, goals and milestones and to stop being pressured by trends. Travel blogging is as personal as my thoughts. And that’s how my path has to be. Unique. One-of-a-kind.
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